Guadagno Selection a Political Masterstroke

While I continue to support Chris Christie for Governor, I have not been hesitant to criticize him or his campaign in my columns on PolitickerNJ.com. I am, however, seeking no benefit from Chris Christie. After having served a most gratifying two decades in government, capped off by my tenure as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA, I have absolutely no intention or desire to serve further in any administration, federal or state.

Furthermore, I am sure that after reading some of my recent columns, Chris Christie would not want me to serve in his administration. So unlike the political players who surround Chris these days, many of whom are self-interested sycophants, I am in the wonderful position of being able to speak truth to power. And, the truth is, Christie’s selection of Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno as his running mate is a political masterstroke.

Christie’s selection of Guadagno must be judged by three criteria: 1) How does it affect his ability to retain the New Jersey Republican base, consisting mostly of conservative voters ? 2) Will it enhance his ability to attract Independent voters? 3) How does the selection process reflect on Christie’s ability to make major decisions?

The answer to all three questions is overwhelmingly positive. Kim Guadagno, win or lose, will emerge from this election as a political superstar. Chris Christie has demonstrated the critical quality of decisiveness combined with careful judgment in making his first governmental appointment. His selection of Guadagno comes at a time when Jon Corzine, the Hamlet of Drumthwacket, buffeted by political winds and pressure groups, appears totally unable to make a decision – and the contrast cannot help but benefit Christie in the eyes of the electorate.

Over the next few months, I have no doubt that New Jersey Republican conservatives will find their enthusiasm for Kim Guadagno increasing. True, she is pro-choice on the abortion issue. Unlike some of the other potential woman Republican Lieutenant Governor candidates, however, Kim does not appear to be “hard-edged” on the issue, and she has never been known to have made abortion rights a central cause of her political or personal life. Most importantly, her opposition to gay marriage and her impeccable personal life distinguish her as a person of traditional values, the kind of woman whom Republican conservatives can enthusiastically support.

Furthermore, Kim Guadagno’s active law enforcement activity against illegal immigration can only further endear her to Republican conservative men and women. Specifically, as Monmouth County Sheriff, she obtained from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security approval to have officers at the county jail deputized as immigration agents under the federal 287(g) program, which gives local authorities the ability to act as immigration officials.

Various critics have already noted that Guadagno’s position on 287(g) differs from that of Chris Christie, as does her position on abortion. My response to that is: So what ? Ronald Reagan and George H.W.Bush had differences on fundamental issues while running against each other during the 1980 primaries; yet this did not prevent them from working together effectively in one of America’s most successful Presidential administrations.

As for her appeal to Independent voters, I can think of no running mate who can more enhance Chris Christie’s appeal to this constituency. For “soccer moms”, Kim Guadagno is an absolute role model. She and her husband, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Michael Guadagno are raising a family of three sons while both serve in government with honor and integrity.

Furthermore, as a former Assistant United States Attorney, New Jersey Assistant Attorney General, and currently as Monmouth County Sheriff, Kim has demonstrated both competence and administrative acumen. There is no question that if Chris Christie were unable to continue in office, Kim Guadagno would most certainly be able to competently serve as Governor of New Jersey. That can only help to increase Christie’s vote totals among Independents.

Finally, kudos must be given to Chris Christie himself. He conducted this process with dignity and thorough vetting of all prospective candidates. If he is elected Governor and makes all appointments in this fashion, he will serve the Garden State very well.

I am certainly not saying that the Guadagno selection has locked up the election for Chris Christie. Ironically, the announcement of the Guadagno appointment was made on the same day as the release of the latest ABC-Washington Post Poll, which shows Obama’s job approval on an accelerated downward trend. This makes Christie’s self-association with Obama, for which I have criticized him vigorously, look all the more foolish. Furthermore, the Monmouth University poll released last week reveals the softness of Christie’s lead, and the need for him to act with more boldness in taking positions on critical issues.

Nevertheless, Christie’s selection of Kim Guadagno proves more than anything else that he is indeed ready to govern. While I have doubted his campaign and strategy, I have always felt that he would make an excellent governor. The Guadagno selection confirms my belief.

As for Jon Corzine, one can truly say that by his indecisiveness and out-of-control process in his running mate selection, he makes Adlai Stevenson look like George Patton. Republicans can only hope that he selects Loretta Weinberg. This would motivate even disgruntled Republican conservatives to work overtime for the Christie-Guadagno ticket. Republicans should only be so lucky.

Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and seven federally recognized Indian nations.

"Since the print publication of this list, Christie, in his capacity as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, helped decisively turn the midterm elections in the Republicans' favor, which makes him a bit more influential than we initially gave him credit for, post-Bridgegate. So when your state governments do absolutely nothing for you for the next four years, be sure to thank him!"
—GQ